There have been some "interesting conditions" in which these big time races have been run. A few, like my second, were in the first week of November, yet the race peaked out at 84 degrees F. Under those conditions, the runner should take one cup of water and one of sports drink, slurp the latter and dump the former over his or her head; the hazard is in remembering which is which later in the race, or else it is not going to be the wicket that is sticky!

There have been brutal wind chill factors. It is easy to take along old warm-ups or trash bags and toss them, but not so easy to find and put on what is needed when the "winds of November turn early"--like coming around Haines Point, crossing the 14th Street Bridge, or running over the Route 128 overpass into Boston. Now, it is generally known and accepted that London has almost perfectly wretched weather (pride of character, and all that, Chaps!), but I have half run and half swum through a few on this, the sunnier side of the Atlantic.

This was my first major navigation in the heavy rain of the 15th Marine Corps Marathon, as you can see me, looking far more cheerful than anyone rational, rounding the capital at the 18th milepost. Running in the rain (if you don't blister) is actually better for you than in the hot dry conditions of many summer runs. It should probably better be said by me here than brought up by someone else looking in on this endurance event from the outside: yes, the marathon can be dangerous, and not just to knee cartilages. I have now been in eight races in which someone has died on the course, all but one younger than I , and ironically, half of them ahead of me, so they had outperformed me in the first half. Some have had an anomaly, such as the two teenagers with a heart defect called "IHSS" not known before, and two were first timers.

But that leaves half as experienced runners with no prior knowledge or suspicion; that numerator number might be quite disconcerting, but the denominator is over tens of thousands of runners whose likelihood of cardiac or vascular events is dramatically reduced through--not so much the racing--as the preparation pattern for the race. This is less a competition than a lifestyle event. Those who did not survive the run, most certainly did not plan to have that outcome; but the runners generally are making plans not to develop such chronic disability as cardiopulmonary disease, and this activity is healthier than any other sedentary sport except being born with a very good deck of genes. But the combination of a lucky draw at birth, and then responsible activity patterns thereafter, is a wonderful way to live--and can even be enjoyable!

And, now for another "Run in the Rain" story from a Marine Corps Marathon more recently. I began the run in a downpour, which only got worse. Somewhere ahead of me, I saw this strange apparition. A big guy in a jacket and pants was running the race backwards, balancing a TV camera on his shoulder, aiming it back toward the oncoming field of runners. I could not figure out how he was going to sustain this, and he did not, but I was still looking at him when I muscled my way through a bottleneck at a turn, in which I tapped the arm of a black woman in a leotard as I passed. I was punched in turn by a burly fellow running too close to her on the opposite side--the difference being that he did not say "excuse me" following what appeared to be no accidental contact, by him to me, after my apology to the woman for the unintentional jostling in traffic.

I forgot this incident after I sped up, passing the cameraman still bouncing backwards. It takes all kinds, I guess, and some take on unusual handicaps. Aw, Shuckins', its hard enough with a disposable pocket camera, which I have taken to carrying in memorable marathons!

When I was at GW Medical School the following day, a couple of the medical students came up to me and said: "We saw you on TV!"

"Oh?" I asked; "When?"

"When you pushed past Oprah Winfrey in the marathon!"